South Downs Planetarium

Late Autumn Stars, Moon and Planets

Award Winning Shows for the family (aged 6+)

About This Show

Sunday 3rd Dec, 3:30pm

Duration 60min Approx

During the autumn months it is getting darker much earlier in the evening. It is in December that we have the longest nights and the shortest days. In early December it is dark soon after 5pm.

From a clear, dark site the late autumn stars are nicely on view. The familiar pattern of the Plough or Big Dipper is getting rather low in the North, but the easy to identify W-shaped pattern of Cassiopeia, the Queen, is almost overhead during autumn evenings. The faint smudge of the Andromeda Galaxy may also be glimpsed from very dark sites, just below Cassiopeia.

The two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are visible as soon as darkness falls. The distinctive Red Planet Mars is also visible, rising in the eastern sky.. The planet is closest to Earth on 1st December, when it will be just over 48 million miles away from Earth.

Of the two giant planets, Jupiter is much the brighter of the two and slightly further east than Saturn. Jupiter makes spectacular viewing. Its four largest moons and its stripy cloud belts are visible even with a small telescope. Saturn’s rings are almost wide open and beautifully displayed, although the planet is now setting in the mid-evening so you need to get out early to get the best view.

The Moon’s ever changing phases are displayed as the Moon waxes and wanes from month to month. When the Moon is new in late November, the absence of moonlight will enable you to have a clear view of the fainter stars and constellation patterns. By early December, the Moon is becoming ever brighter and more prominent in the evening sky and will be Full on 8th December.

Come to the Planetarium for a fascinating whistlestop tour of the late autumn night sky.

Directions & Map.

SDP Car Park

Please Note

The only entrance for walkers, cars buses, lorries, coaches, PoGo sticks or Space Hoppers, is by the High School entrance in Kingsham Road, then follow the signs to "The South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre" It is located at the southern end of the Chichester High Schools campus.

There is no direct access off the Chichester Bypass. All access via Kingsham Road only.

Click here to download a printable copy.

Car Parking

Please note there are two free car parks available.

the South Downs Planetarium car park

The South Downs Planetarium one of two car parks.

Note for Satnav users.

Satnav postcode use PO19 8EB

In what3words uk use

Prices and Admission

Opening Times

Because we are a charity run by volunteers we are only open for the public shows from 45 minutes before the published show time. Therefore there is no facility to accomodate casual vistors.


The seats in the main auditorium are ex-aircraft seats. Those in the first two rows are set at a slightly reclined angle to provide the best possible view. They can, however, be tipped forwards to enable easier access to the rows behind when entering and leaving. The seats in the back row do not recline. They provide a wide view of the entire dome area, which some of our visitors prefer.

Important Information

Gift Aid

Please also consider making a donation under the Gift Aid scheme. It costs you nothing and gives us more. Download the Gift Aid form here